09/10/2014 09:18 am ET Updated Sep 10, 2014

The White Beauty Myth

Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images

Growing up in suburban Connecticut, I was the minority by default. Anything and everything that was the physical manifestation of my non-white background was fuel for mockery. My hair was too curly, too kinky, and too frizzy. My lips were too big. My nose was too wide. People made a game out of guessing my ethnicity, believing such an activity was as harmless as pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. My peers and adults alike made it abundantly clear that I did not belong; my blackness was a constant reminder of my status as an outsider. I can distinctly recall riding the bus in elementary school with a white classmate; He turned to me and said, “You know why black people don’t have to wipe their own asses? Because their skin is already the color of shit.”

Before I was a teenager (and forever thereafter), my worth as a human being was solely based upon the color of my skin. Self-care is a never-ending process; I’ve only recently learned how to treat the psychic wounds. It makes my skin crawl when I have to tolerate people who refuse to employ critical thinking skills when it concerns race and racism. We all see color: noticing color is not the problem. The problem is rooted in the denial of privilege. The problem is when those “preferences” are founded upon sweeping, bigoted generalizations carved from racist ideologies.

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